I want everyone to experience the wonder of Walt Disney World. But, I know, it’s expensive! Sadly, that may be the one thing keeping you from taking a trip to the most magical place on earth. Let’s change that! I know some great tips for buying discount Disney tickets and how you can earn free Disney gift cards to pay for lodging, dining and all the merch you can haul home! Here we go!
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Let’s start with some basic information about purchasing Walt Disney World park tickets. Tickets are purchased based on the number of days that you want access to the parks. There are 4 parks at Walt Disney World and tickets are valid at one theme park each day. There is also the option to upgrade to Park Hopper pass which allow you to move between parks throughout the day. You can purchase tickets for 1-10 day. Tickets do not have to be used on consecutive days but they do have an expiration date.
Ticket prices will vary depending on when you are going. Prices are higher during peak season and they vary day to day.
Disney has recently begun offering Mid-Day Magic Tickets. These allow you access to the parks after 12:00 pm for a discounted daily rate. They offer 2,3 and 4- day ticket options.
Park tickets are only good for admission to the 4 theme parks during regular park hours. If you are staying at a Disney resort or other qualifying hotel you can also enjoy the Extra Magic Hours at each park.
There are other events in the parks that require an additional ticket. These include things like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and any after hours events.
Go to this post for help deceiding how many park day tickets you should purchase.
Disney Discount Tickets from Disney
Disney does offer discounted park tickets to two groups of people. These are Florida residents and Military families. Florida residents can purchase their tickets directly through Disney. Qualifying military personnel should purchase tickets from a participating U.S. military sales outlet.
Technically, everyone will save around $20/day on park tickets if you purchase them ahead of time. The most expensive way to purchase tickets is to get them at the gates. Please don’t do this 🙂
Disney Discount Tickets from Authorized Resellers
The easiest way to get discounted Disney tickets is to purchase them from authorized ticket resellers. These are the 3 that I can recommending based on my experience. Do your research before buying tickets from any other 3rd party seller. Never buy tickets off of Ebay or craigslist.
You do need to be a Sam’s club member to purchase tickets from here. If you are not a member there are ways to get a membership at a discounted rate. I will explain that later.
On the Sam’s Club website they have a Travel and Services drop-down menu. In that menu select Travel and Entertainment. Here you can find tickets for several different places including Walt Disney World.
A 3-day park ticket from Sam’s Club is $367.18.
This authorized Disney ticket broker is highly recommended by several other Disney travel sites. I have not personally used them but would not hesitate to in the future. The main reason I have not used them is that they mail your tickets. I prefer having the option to get e-tickets. Because, frankly, I am a procrastinator and am usually buying my tickets hours before I need to book Fastpasses! So, yeah, snail mail would not work for me.
A 3-day park ticket from Park Savers is $350.33.
I have purchased my Disney park tickets for my last 3 trips from Undercover Tourist. They have the best prices and as I mentioned before, I require e-tickets. Typically, tickets are emailed shortly after purchase, you can choose to have a hard ticket mailed to you also. I did have to email the company the last time I bought tickets because I still had not received them the next day. However, that email got answered immediately and I had my tickets within 10 min.
A 3-day park ticket from Undercover Tourist is $350.82.
Members can purchase tickets on the AAA website. A will call certificate will be emailed within an hour of your purchase. You must present a printed copy with a valid photo ID at one of the sales locations listed on your certificate. Orders placed after 1:00 AM EST will be processed the following day. I am not sure if the sales locations they are reffering to are Disney locations, like will call, or AAA sales locations.
A 3-day park ticket from AAA is $356.33.
One more note about comparing ticket prices from different sites. Make sure you go all the way the ordering process, like you are going to buy the suckers, to confirm that you are seeing the final price. Some sites, including Disney, do not add the taxes and fees till the order confirmation page.
Discounted Gift Cards
You can use Disney gift cards to purchase park tickets direct from the Walt Disney World website or at the ticket counter (but remember, we are not going to buy them there!) These gift cards can be purchased at a number of different locations. Using a few different strategies you could save up to 15% or more.
The easiest way to get discounted gift cards is to just buy them from a wholesale club like Sam’s Club, BJ’s and Costco. You do have to be a club member to make purchases at these locations. Consider the cost of club membership when assessing your savings. They sell gift cards at around a 4% discount. To save even more, you can use a cash back credit card.
Purchases made with the Target’s credit (or debit) card, the RedCard, receive a 5% discount. This includes Disney gift cards.
If you happen to have a Krogers near by you are in luck. This is one of the best ways to “save” money on Disney. Technically, you are saving money on gas but you have to buy gift cards to make this work.
Typically, you can earn 1 fuel point for each dollar spent and 2 points/dollar on gift card purchases. Periodically, Krogers offers a promotion of 4x Fuel Points on the purchase of gift cards. So if you were to purchase $250 dollars in Disney gift cards this would earn you 1000 Fuel Points. This gives you $1.00 off per gallon of gas for up to 35 gallons. This does need to be used in one transaction so you might need to bring some gas cans with to get your full benefit 🙂 So technically, you have saved $35 with the purchase of your $250 gift cards which is a savings of 14%. You could also stack this with a cash back credit card.
Gift cards can also be purchased on card exchange sites. These sites buy unused gift cards and resell them at a discounted price. This can require a little patience to find a card for the store you want at a decent discount. You can increase your savings by making this purchase through a cash back site also. (See cash back programs below)
This is the company that I generally use. My experiences have been great. I always purchase electronic gift cards from them. Sometimes I will do this right in the store and receive it in time to check out. I would only do this at retailers you use frequently incase it takes longer to process. It can always be used later. The electronic gift cards are also stored right on the app so they are easy to access. You can set up notifications when a card is available from merchants you select. Cards for popular stores like Walmart, Sam’s club and Disney go fast so it is best to be ready when they are available. Here is my referral link to join this service.
This is another gift card exchange company. I have only used them a couple of times. I have never had any issues. I have just preferred to use Raise and I earn cash back on my purchases from Raise through TopCashback. I have not seen any cash back options for purchases made at Cardpool.
Using your discounted Disney gift cards is a great way to save money on all things Disney. They are redeemable nationwide at Walt Disney World® Resort, Disneyland® Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Store US locations, and Disneystore.com, and other Disney locations. They can be used at any Disney location where credit cards are accepted. This is a great way to help save on food, lodging, and merchandise.
Cash Back Credit Cards
There are several credit cards that offer very good cash back programs at certain retailers or with special promotions. The American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card gives you a 6% cash back (statement credit) at grocery stores. Chase, Visa and American Express all have cards that offer cash back on all purchases. Several business accounts offer higher cash back rates at office supply store. Do a little research determine what card would be the right fit for you. Carefully read all of the terms to assure that the store you are making your purchase at qualifies for your cash back offer. Also, consider any annual fees you may be charged.
Earning Free Disney Gift cards
Credit Card Rewards
Almost all credit cards offer some kind of rewards system. Often the reward points you earn on cards can be redeemed for gift cards. I have the Disney Visa Card and just redeemed my points for a $60 gift card to use on our upcoming trip. There are other Disney perks to having this card too. Here is my referral link if you want to check it out.
There are a lot of shopping programs that you can join to earn free gift cards. I am just going to tell you about the ones that I personally use. Actually, I am going to tell you about one that I do not use. Swagbucks. I want to mention it because there are a lot of people who use it and swear by it. Personally I find it to be too time consuming. I stick with the ones that require little effort!
Shopkicks – The are 6 ways to earn points or “kicks” as they call them. The easiest way is to simply walk in the store (with the app open and wifi on) Instant kicks. You can also scan products in the store, purchase products and scan your receipt, make purchases with a linked card, make online purchases through the app and watch videos. In the 4 months I have been using the app I have earned 7,698 kicks. I could redeem this now for a $25 Disney gift card but I am hoping to up my game a little in the next month to get to a $50 card before our trip. Here is my referral link is you want to give it a try.
Fetch – This is by far the easiest rewards program. You simply submit a picture of your grocery receipt on the app. Fetch will award you points on all participating products and special offers you have purchased. To ensure that you receive the most points possible you can plan your shopping based on the featured brands. I just shop like I normally would and get points on whatever happens to be eligible. Naturally, it takes longer to build up points this way. In the 4 months of using the app, I have earned 8,518 points. I could get a $5.00 gift card but I’m holding out for 10,000 points and a $10.00 gift card. They do not have Disney cards but I will get a Walmart card and use it towards purchasing discounted gift cards as Sam’s club. Here is my referral link for Fetch.
Cash back programs
TopCashback – This site gives you cash back on purchases made online. There is also a mobile app. Any time you are buying something online you should be going through a cash back site. Simply search the site you want to make a purchase from to see if they currently have a cash back offer. These offers will change. Different merchants will show up and cash back rates change. Even if it is only 2-3% back, if you do this with all of your online shopping it adds up. I get email notifications when rates go up or they are running a special promotion with my preferred merchants. This is helpful for playing the Disney gift card game 🙂 If you are not using a cash back site, start now! Here is my referral link for TopCashback.
Rakuten – Another cashback site I use is Rakuten, formerly known as Ebates. Honestly, if have found that cash back rates are better through TopCashback. Compare both sites to get the best cash back rate. If you can’t find the merchant you need on one, check the other. Rakuten also has an extension that can be installed on your computer. When you visit merchant sites, a pop up will let you know if there is a cash back offer. You just have to click the activate button. Referral link, again. Now go get some cash back!
Dosh – The Dosh app provides cash back at certain retailers online and in store. Just link a debit/credit card to the app and use that for payment. The downside to Dosh is that the store options are very limited. They do change from time to time and regionally. Often, Dosh will offer 4% cash back at Sam’s club! This is really nice for buying Disney gift cards. Confirm that the debit/credit card that is linked to your Dosh account is one that Sam’s club will accept for payment.
All of these sites will pay out with a check or Paypal once you have reached a payable amount. I plan to use the money that I have earned from these cash back programs to buy Disney gift cards. So for me this is just like earning free gift cards because these are purchases I would make anyway.
Using any of these options you will save money on Disney World park tickets and almost anything else for your Disney vacation. But, you can get the most bang for your buck by combining some of these strategies. Let me give you a few examples.
Park Tickets – In my opinion, unless you can get Disney gift cards through the Fuel Points program at Kroger at 14%, your best bet is to buy your tickets from one of the authorized 3rd party sellers. Use a cashback credit card to save a little more.
If you have the time to save up points and cash back you can use that for purchasing tickets too.
Gift Cards-Stacking these strategies can really help you save money on purchasing gift cards. One of the main reasons I prefer to use Raise to purchase gift cards is because TopCashback always offers 3% back on purchases from Raise. This is one of the VERY few times you can get cashback on gift card purchases.
When you buy a discounted gift card on Raise, go through TopCashback to get an extra 3% and use a cashback credit card to make the purchase.
As I was wrting this post, Raise had a one day sale offering $10 off of any gift card purchase over $125. I was looking to buy Walmart cards but they only had $500 cards that were not discounted. However, TopCashback was also running a one day special of 8% off of Raise. So i bought a $500 Walmart gift card. I paid $490 and will get $39.20 back from TopCashback.
Even if you are not trying to save money on a Walt Disney World vacation you can use these techniques to save money everyday. Start with using a couple of the easiest ones like Fetch and TopCach Back first. Trust me, you will become obcessed with finding the best way to earn the most rewards with every purchase you makes